Monday, October 17, 2016

Pakistan - 'We are on verge of global isolation', Pakistani media warns government and security agencies

 International isolation "appears to be looming over" Pakistan all thanks to its inaction against terrorism, said a blog post in The Nation today, a view shared by many of the country's bloggers and social media users,

This is particularly significant, because The Nation is a newspaper considered close to the Pakistani government as well as the military establishment. And in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi sparing no efforts to continually highlight cross-border terror attacks - yesterday he alluded to Pakistan as the " mothership of terror+ " - Pakistan's own media running opinions that rap its government's knuckles could well be a sign that civil society there is rattled, following the Uri attack in India and its global condemnation.

Citing the fact that even Pakistan's so-called strategic ally, China, has expressed concern about inaction on terror, the editorial says that the government needs to indiscriminately crack down on all non-state terror actors, and back its words with action.

"Modi's statement shows just how committed New Delhi is when it comes to isolating Pakistan globally. From cancelling the Saarc summit to boycotting Pakistani artistes, the Modi regime is hell-bent on weakening Pakistan at every international forum... When and if isolated, the impact would be drastic, and Pakistan would never want that," says the blog post.

The newspaper directly lambasted the Pakistani government and the security agencies, who it said "should at least have the decency to admit that Pakistan still isn't 100 per cent sure which non-state actor is good or bad." It added that just days earlier, even a ruling party lawmaker demanded action against non-state actors who happen to be the very ones that New Delhi has alleged Islamabad is sponsoring+ .

"The current political scenario calls for Pakistan to clearly define its policies to its allies; not just define but act on them as well. Pakistan has to realise+ that what really is in its national interest is the complete elimination of nefarious elements, without any discrimination; the civil and military brass should at least have the decency to admit that Pakistan still isn't 100 per cent sure which non-state actor is good or bad," the blog post in the Pakistani newspaper said.

It also referred to a recent, controversial piece of reportage+ in another newspaper, Dawn, which said that the civilian Pakistani government clashed with the military over the latter impeding efforts to crack down on terror.

"Instead of clarifying its stance on non-state actors, however, the federal government placed the name of the reporter of the story, Cyril Almeida, on Exit Control List...The decision to ban him (a decision that's been since revoked ) reflects the immaturity on part of the federal government, and Almeida's story was never, as both the civil and military brass claim, a 'threat to national security' ", said the blog post.

Just last week, The Nation, in another hard-hitting editorial, ridiculed talk about "national security" and asked why why action against Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar and Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed was a "danger" to the country's security, as the government and the military told the Pakistani media.

"Worry a great deal about Pakistan's image abroad - some of our actions and inactions as a country are indefensible - everyone knows it, no matter how much we may pretend otherwise," the blogsaid.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Video - #PPP Song - Kal Bhi Bhutto Zinda Tha,Ajj Bhi Bhutto Zinda hai

Video - PPP Song Dilan Teer Bijan

VIDEO - Bilawal Bhutto Speach in PPP Salam Shuhada rally

Video - سلام شہید ریلی : بلاول بھٹو کا جارحانہ انداز میں تقریر

Bilawal Bhutto - We will free you from 'Takht-i-Raiwind'

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is holding a rally in Karachi on Sunday to pay rich tribute to the victims of the 2007 Karsaz attack.
More than 125 people were killed in twin blasts on October 18, 2007, as the party held a rally to welcome former prime minister Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan.
Addressing the rally, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said, "We are here to pay tribute to martyrs of the Karsaz attack."
"BB's son is amongst you. I have brought change to Sindh, I am bringing change to the party and if you side with me, then we will also bring change to Pakistan."
"Together we will complete BB's unfinished mission," he vowed.
"We will together bring freedom from terrorism, for Kashmiris, from poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, sectarianism, from the caretakers of religion — and bring freedom from 'Takht-i-Raiwind'."
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is leading the rally, accompanied by former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf, Chief Minster Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, provincial mister Manzoor Wassan, Senator Sherry Rehman and other central leaders.
Tens of thousands of party activists are participating in the rally, taken out two days prior to Oct 18.
The PPP rally has commenced from Bilawal House and will pass through Boat Basin, Mai Kolachi, ICI Chowk, Kakri Ground, Lea Market, Napier Road, Denso Hall, M.A. Jinnah Road, Numaish Chowrangi, Shahrah-i-Quaideen on its way to Karsaz.

Traffic diversion plan

The traffic police issued a traffic diversion plan in view of the rally.
Those wishing to reach airport from Sharea Faisal should take Korangi route via FTC Bridge. People proceeding to Clifton from Gulshan-i-Iqbal should use Shaheed-i-Millat Road, said the plan.
"From the airport, people wishing to reach Saddar should turn right towards Rashid Minhas Road and use Stadium Road and pass through People’s Chowrangi. Those who want to reach Clifton and Defence from the airport should make use of the route from Shah Faisal Colony and Korangi Industrial Area. Those travelling to the airport from Nazimabad should make use of the Nipa and Drigh Road routes."
According to the plan, those who want to reach Ziauddin Hospital in Clifton should use Seaview and China Chowrangi route. Citizens travelling to South City Hospital should make use of the Bahria underpass route. People intending to reach the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre from Landhi and Korangi should use Korangi Road and CSD service lane.

Karsaz carnage

Over 125 participants of a procession led by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto upon her return to the country lost their lives on Oct 18 after two powerful blasts rocked the slow-moving motorcade edging its way past the Karsaz bridge, on Sharea Faisal.
At least 100 people were injured in the explosions.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

What makes the Pakistani army so powerful over the civilian government?

Military is the most powerful institution in pakistan. It is so powerful that it is known as "the state within a state" 

Since its creation in 1947, Pakistan has always kept a military force much more than what it actually needed because they were paranoid that if they do not keep a strong army the much powerful  India will attack and destroy them. (This paronoria still remains in Pakistan) So pakistanis eventually created and fed an army so big that they can't control. When pakistan was in internal turmoil barely a decade after its creation, the military establishment utilized the opportunity and created a military regime for the first time in 1958 which lasted till 1971. ISI (pakistan's intelligence agency) which is an extnsion of the Pakistani military, headed by army generals also played crucial role in this process. In 1971 after Indian armed forces separated east Pakistan from west and helped in the formation of Bangladesh, the Indian paronoria gradually resurged in pakistan, then in 1977 military again did a coup in the country under general zia. This time by hanging prime-minister bhutto. Zia regime lasted till his death in 1988. Zia created and supported right-wing terrorist groups across pakistan targeting Afghanistan and India. Right-wing became more powerful in pakistan with military support and imported Wahabi ideologies from Gulf. Civil war in the Afghanistan also created a favorable situation for them in Pakistan.  By this time military had a complete control over the political system of the country and became extremely powerful. During this time ISI became well funded and infiltrated inside every institution in the country. (USA and Saudi Arabia always supported and favored military regimes in Pakistan as it was easy to deal directly with miltary than with the messy and confused politicans) From 1988 to 1999 many elected governments formed but military establishment indirectly controlled the defence and foreign policy of Pakistan. Even ISI is accused by some for rigging those elections in favour of the military sponserd candidates.

In 1999, soon after the defeat of Pakistan in the kargil war against India, the civil-military relations hit rock bottom again. Pakistan military did a coup again this time under general musharaff and then prime-minster nawaz shereef forced to seek asylum in Saudi Arabia. The following military rule continued till 2008. 

Though officially Pakistan is a Democratic country, military sets the rules there and controls the government. In short, Pakistan made an army which is much stronger than any other institutions, so it has become easy for the army generals to dominate in the internal affairs.

Pakistan - Bilawal shakes up top PPP command, Punjab split in two

The Chairman of Pakistan People's Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has decided to reorganise the party in all four provinces by replacing office bearers on important slots. The PPP will divide Punjab into two parts, namely Central Punjab and Southern Punjab, for the reorganisation purpose and separate presidents and general secretaries would be appointed for each part.
Reliable sources said that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has decided in principal to appoint Qamar Zaman Kaira as president and Nadim Afzal as General Secretary of Central Punjab to make the party workers active. Similarly, in the Southern Punjab, former Governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood will be appointed as president and Abdul Qadir Shaheen the Secretary General. Murtaza Satti might also be given some important role in Punjab.
The current president of Punjab PPP Mian Manzoor Ahmed Watoo had advised PPP's chairman Bilawal to select his own team before the next general elections. He also said he would happily accept whatever role he would be assigned in the party. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has also taken a decision to change the presidents and general secretaries of the party in other provinces besides Punjab too. The sources said that that consultation is underway to take the seat of the President from Qaim Ali Shah and give it either to Manzoor Wasan or Agha Siraj Durrani. The weight on Wassan's side seems to be more than Durrani's, whereas Senator Qayyum Soomro's name is roaming in the party's circle for provincial General Secretary.
In the same way Bilawal is also keen to remove Sadiq Imrani from the slot of PPP's Balochistan President and wants to appoint either Mir Baz Khan Kithran or Fateh Muhammad Hasni in his place. It is very likely that Ali Madad Jatak or Sabir Baloch may be given the position of General Secretary Balochistan.
Sources said that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, either Zahir Shah or Azam Afridi would become provincial president in place of Senator Khanzada. Sources also told this scribe that after consultations with the senior leadership of the party, Bilawal would take his father Asif Ali Zardari into confidence after which the announcement of new party office bearers would be announced informally.
After the appointment of new party office bearers, Bilawal has plans to commence the mission of appeasing the annoyed cohorts of Benazir Bhutto to bring them back in the PPP so that the party might be strengthened before the next general elections. At present, Bilawal is eager to pay more attention to Punjab, the sources added.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Video - Michelle Obama's EPIC Speech On Trump's Sexual Behavior

Pakistan - Bilawal Bhutto expressed grief and sorrow over the sad death of Female Football Player Shahlyla Baloch

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has expressed grief and sorrow over the sad death of Female Football Player Shahlyla Baloch, the daughter of Senator Rubina Irfan of Balochistan.
Pakistan women’s football team striker Shahlyla Baloch died in a car crash in Karachi late Wednesday night.Baloch had received the FIFA’s youngest players award and She also became the first Pakistani woman to score a hat-trick abroad during her stint in Maldives.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari offered condolence to the members of bereaved family and prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage and fortitude to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss with equanimity.

Monday, October 10, 2016

PAKISTAN - PPP SONG - Kal Bhi Bhutto Zinda Tha,Ajj

Bilawal Bhutto - Nawaz ‘blocking’ Panama Leaks investigations

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto criticised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for blocking every attempt at the Panama probe to protect himself on Monday.
The PPP chairman lashed out at the prime minister as he said on Twitter that Nawaz is seeking disqualification of petitions submitted against him by opposition parties in light of the Panama Papers leak.
According to the media reports, in an application filed with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) the prime minister termed allegations levelled by four opposition parties against him as ‘baseless’, saying he has no association with any offshore company mentioned in Panama Papers.

Exclusive: Afghan Taliban leader taught, preached in Pakistan, despite government vow to crack down leftright 3/3leftright

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik
For 15 years until his sudden disappearance in May, the new leader of the Afghan Taliban insurgency openly taught and preached at the Al Haaj mosque in a dusty town in southwestern Pakistan, associates and students told Reuters. Details of Haibatullah Akhundzada's life in Kuchlak, near the city of Quetta, have not previously been reported, and could put further pressure on Pakistan to do more to crack down on militants openly living there.
The row over how far Islamabad will go to get rid of jihadi fighters and leaders has hurt relations between Pakistan and Washington, in part because nearly 10,000 American soldiers are in Afghanistan supporting the war against insurgents.
A spokesman for the U.S. State Department's South Asia bureau said it was not "not in a position to confirm Haibatullah Akhundzada's whereabouts, past or present." Akhundzada is now believed to be in hiding after crossing the long and porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but not before going untouched in Kuchlak, located in Baluchistan province, as he rose up the ranks of the Afghan Taliban. He was promoted to "emir" in May after a U.S. drone killed his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, in another part of Pakistan, a strike that infuriated Islamabad but reflected growing impatience over what Washington sees as ambivalence toward its enemies.
Five years earlier, U.S. forces stormed a compound near the Pakistani capital and killed al Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden.
"Once he became Emir, he left with his whole family," said Hafiz Abdul Majeed, who runs the Al Haaj mosque, adding that he himself studied for several years under Akhundzada. "You can't teach religion and run (the Taliban's) government at the same time. And it would of course have been dangerous for us and the students and the mosque if he remained here." Pakistan says it does all it can to go after militants. The Interior Ministry did not reply to written questions about Akhundzada's time in Kuchlak.
A military spokesman said the army would not comment. Analysts say Pakistan has historically backed the Afghan Taliban as a hedge against the influence of arch-rival India, with whom Pakistan has fought three wars, in its backyard. Pakistan denies this.
"I strongly reject any organized presence of Taliban in Baluchistan," Sarfaraz Bugti, home minister for the province, told Reuters.
"MAN OF FAITH" At the Al Haaj mosque, scores of teenaged boys wearing turbans and traditional "shalwar kameez" robes attended classes at a religious school, typical of remote parts of Pakistan, where they provide education for millions of boys.
On a recent visit, the metal door of the room where Akhundzada is said to have rested between lessons was padlocked and the curtains on the windows almost fully drawn. But Akhundzada's name could be seen painted on a wall inside in large calligraphic text.
Colleagues and students described Akhundzada, thought to be in his mid-50s and originally from Kandahar in Afghanistan, as a studious disciplinarian who slipped out of Kuchlak two days before being named Taliban chief.
Majeed, the mosque administrator, said Akhundzada taught students from 8 a.m. to noon every morning at the mosque, and was paid a monthly salary of 10,000 Pakistani rupees ($100). "We are sad that he is gone because he was a great teacher and a great asset for this mosque," he said. Several other people at the mosque confirmed his account, although they did not want to be quoted.
Asked how someone closely associated with the Taliban could live so openly, Majeed replied: "He was just a man of faith. He was a 'Sheikh-ul-Hadith' (scholar of Islam's Hadith texts). And when he became Emir, he left here. That's all we know."
Several associates said Akhundzada lost family members in the Afghan war following U.S.-led military intervention to drive the Taliban from power in 2001.
One former pupil at Al Haaj, Pai Khan, says he heard Akhundzada speak at a public rally in Quetta in 2014 commemorating the death of an Afghan Taliban commander.
"He spoke with a lot of force about the U.S. and the war and that we would not give up our jihad, that we would never negotiate with the puppet government in Afghanistan or talk to the U.S.," said Khan, now an activist for a pro-Taliban party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, in Quetta. Reuters was unable to confirm this account.
Khan said Akhundzada taught him at the mosque for several years nearly a decade ago. "If you met him in the street you would never think he would be one of the world's greatest leaders one day," Khan told Reuters in a bustling Quetta bazaar. "DEFENDERS OF ISLAM" Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that, after fleeing Afghanistan, Akhundzada lived for years in the Kuchlak mosque and religious school while he was the movement's shadow chief justice. However, he disputed the timeline given by Akhundzada's associates, saying he left Kuchlak soon after being named deputy leader in 2015. "Do you believe a most wanted figure like ... Akhundzada would live in a prominent place like Kuchlak and run a madrassah there when U.S. and Afghan forces and their security agencies are desperately trying to either kill him or capture him?" There are no known photographs or written records of Akhundzada's tenure in Kuchlak. Reuters could not independently verify the accounts given of his time there. Elsewhere in Baluchistan province, supporters of the Afghan Taliban said Akhundzada was well known. "Akhundzada lived for many years in Kuchlak. I met him many times. He used to come to Quetta often," said Syed Abdul Sattar Shah Chishti, spokesman for the hardline Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Nazriati political party in Quetta, another pro-Taliban group. Western diplomats believe some seminaries in the Quetta area have long been fertile ground for Islamist militancy. In Quetta itself, pro-Taliban jihadi ideology is openly embraced, and Taliban sources say the group's "Quetta shura", or council, has met sporadically in recent years to make important decisions including choosing new leaders. Pakistan, however, denies the Taliban leadership operates openly.
Bugti, Baluchistan home minister, said Pakistan had taken measures to stop militants criss-crossing the frontier, including tougher checks that would stop Taliban fighters using fake Pakistani documents to travel, as Mansour did before he was killed. He said authorities cannot keep track of up to 4 million Afghan refugees who have lived in Pakistan, some for decades.
"It is not possible for us to predict who among the refugees will become the president of Afghanistan or the leader of the Taliban," Bugti said.


Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met with the party’s Karachi leaders on Saturday. They informed him about their preparations for party’s rally from Bilawal House to Karsaz scheduled on October 16 to pay tribute to the martyrs of Karsaz attack.
Bilawal said the PPP would never forget its leaders and activists
who had sacrificed their lives for the cause of their fellow people and democracy.
The Karachi leaders included Senator Saeed Ghani, Shehla Raza, Rashid Rabani, Waqar Mehdi, and Najmi Alam. PPP women wing’s Faryal Talpur, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Maula Bux Chandio and Jameel Soomro were also present on the occasion.
The PPP leaders said the party activists in the city were mobilised through meetings, pamphlets, banners and handbills to draw a maximum number of people to the rally for a befitting homage to the martyrs and Benazir Bhutto who had remained unhurt in the terrorist attack just eight weeks before her martyrdom in another terrorist attack in Rawalpindi.

Pakistani Christians under attack - Supreme Court to hear appeal case of Asia Bibi on October 13

The Supreme Court of Pakistan is to hear the appeal case of Asia Noreen Bibi- a Christian woman on row over blasphemy conviction. The apex court has set October 13 for the case hearing. Asia BIbi will be represented in the apex court by a her defense counsel Advocate Saiful Malook – who “nurtures high hopes,” as noted, “the flaws in the law and the evidence that demonstrate the innocence of the woman.”
Joseph Nadeem, a family guardian of Asia Bibi has confirmed the date of case hearing, as he added: “this is a decisive moment in which the constant prayer of all Christians and all people of good will is required, so that Asia may be freed.”
Asia Bibi is currently, languishing behind the bars in Multan in an isolated cell. She was booked by the police in 2009 – later was awarded capital punishment. An appeal against her death sentence was turned down by High Court which upheld the punishment. Later on June 22, 2015 Supreme Court while hearing her appeal case temporarily suspended her death sentence.
“I have studied her case in detail and given the elements in Asia’s favor, I predict there is going to be an acquittal. I want to be in court to follow the hearing in person, in an institutional capacity as a representative of the provincial government,” said Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minorities’ Affairs Khalil Tahir Sindhu.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Video: Afghanistan: Fifteen Years of Invasion and Occupation

October 7th marks the 15 anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.Fifteen years of massacres, fifteen years of drone strikes and civilian massacres…We were told that the invasion of Afghanistan was in response to the 9/11 attacks.
Fifteen years after NATO’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the 9/11 and Al Qaeda lies that were used to justify the war have disappeared.

Afghanistan Is an Infinite Quagmire


 ''It began as the “good” war. Fifteen years on, it’s a disaster we can’t escape.''
When the United States went to war in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, the impetus and aims seemed clear. “Make no mistake,” President George W. Bush told reporterson September 11, “the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly attacks.” Within days, American bombs began to rain down on Kabul, Kandahar, and Jalalabad, in an effort to smoke out Osama bin Laden and cripple the Taliban regime that harbored him. In a matter of weeks, Kabul had fallen to coalition forces, the Taliban were on the run, and Hamid Karzai was sworn in as the leader of a new interim government. A swift victory appeared all but assured.
Today, 15 years after the invasion began, Afghanistan has turned into America’s longest war. More than 2,300 American troops have died in the conflict, which has cost U.S. taxpayers $686 billion. As a candidate, Barack Obama vowed that we would quickly “finish the job” in Afghanistan. Instead, Obama has presided over a war that went from dismal to disastrous. According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the Taliban gained ground this year, while the government in Kabul grows weaker. In July, Obama announced that the United States will leave 8,400 troops in Afghanistan—up from the 5,500 he originally called for. By almost any measure, we are moving backwards.
When the conflict began, no one guessed that America would become tangled in a forever war. As a candidate for president, Bush had famously derided the concept of nation-building. The mission in Afghanistan was supposed to be limited in scope: We would go in, get rid of the bad guys, and get out. “For the first time in our history,” Vice President Dick Cheney remarked on October 18, 2001, eleven days after the start of the war, “we will probably suffer more casualties here at home in America than will our troops overseas.” General Tommy Franks, the head of U.S. Central Command, said early on that the war was not about “occupying major strategic terrain,” and therefore offered “the easiest exit strategy we’ve had in years.”
Almost immediately, however, our ambitions metastasized. A month after the war began, First Lady Laura Bush framed the fight against terrorism as a fight for the “rights and dignity of women.” Her speech inspired a long procession of gender initiatives, and scores of Afghan women became pilots, police officers, soldiers, lawmakers, judges, and teachers. Millions of Afghan girls now attend school. Yet it remains common to hear of Afghan women who have been stoned to death, attacked with acid, or beaten by relatives. According to a report by the British government, more than 5,000 cases of violence against Afghan women—including 241 murders—were reported in the first half of this year.
Other initiatives have followed a similar trajectory. Each country in the U.S.-led coalition was assigned a project. Germany was tasked with police reform. Italy would overhaul the justice system. The United Kingdom was put in charge of counter-narcotics. But the fragmented approach further splintered the Afghan state. “Instead of responding to the needs of the population, the initiatives answered the objectives and agendas of the international sponsors,” says Timor Sharan, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group. Today, police corruption is widespread, access to justice remains wildly uneven, and Afghanistan is still the world’s leading producer of opium.
The United States has spent $113 billion on reconstruction efforts: building schools, installing irrigation systems, funding anticorruption campaigns. Yet billions of dollars were wasted on projects that were never completed or have fallen into disrepair. The failure is particularly clear in rural Afghanistan, where over 70 percent of the population lives. Much of the money for building and employment projects, according to Sharan, was funneled into urban areas at the expense of more remote regions, fostering resentment and contributing to the ongoing civil war. In Kandahar, for example, the security and stability of the city has come at the expense of rural residents, who are routinely discriminated against by the powerful police commander, Abdul Raziq, who has been accused of running a police state.
It is almost hard to remember now that in May 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld landed in Kabul and declared that major combat operations in Afghanistan were officially over. At the time there were just 8,000 American troops on the ground. As the situation deteriorated, however, the U.S. presence ramped up. By 2007, there were 25,000 troops in Afghanistan—but the added firepower only made things worse. The next year was the deadliest of the war so far: More than 150 American troops died, along with more than 2,000 Afghan civilians, many of them killed by coalition air strikes.
The next year, shortly after taking office, Obama announced a surge of 21,000 troops, bringing the total number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to more than 50,000. That December, he announced he was sending 30,000 more. By August 2010, the number of U.S. troops reached 100,000. Afghans, meanwhile, took advantage of Western forces to settle personal vendettas. The Alakozai clan, for example, convinced U.S. forces to crack down on the rival Chowkazai clan by claiming they were aligned with the Taliban.
At the end of 2014, with an eye on his legacy, Obama declared victory in Afghanistan. “The longest war in American history,” he insisted, “is coming to a responsible conclusion.” Despite the continued presence of U.S. troops, the war receives little attention in the media: There are just over a dozen full-time foreign correspondents stationed in Kabul, down from hundreds at the height of the war. The major TV networks have closed their offices, and newspapers have whittled down their staffs. Deteriorating security has made it harder to go out on reporting trips. The bacchanal of the expat community is a thing of the past, which is good—such excess was long a point of contention for Afghans, who viewed it as a sign of the international community’s wastefulness. Many of those who remain have moved inside the secure walls of the Green Zone in Kabul, along with the embassies and government agencies.
Afghanistan, meanwhile, continues to unravel. The unchecked flow of foreign dollars has made the country’s power brokers rich, resurrecting the widespread discontent that gave rise to the Taliban. And the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces—supported by more than $68 billion in U.S. tax dollars—have proven unable to hold their ground. When Kunduz fell back under Taliban control last fall, government forces deserted en masse. Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, is teetering on the verge of collapse: The Afghan government controls only a fourth of the province, and some 30,000 civilians have been displaced, creating a humanitarian crisis. “Families, children, women, all have to sleep on the streets,” says Omar Zawak, a spokesman for the provincial governor. “There is a shortage of food and clean water.” Since 2009—the first year the United Nations began keeping records—the war has claimed the lives of 63,934 civilians.
Before the war started, Mullah Omar, the one-eyed Taliban leader, told a visiting Pakistani official that Osama bin Laden was an unwelcome guest of the Taliban regime. He did not want his government to become embroiled in bin Laden’s global jihad, but the Pashtun code of honor demanded that he host the Al Qaeda leader with grace. “He is like a bone stuck in my throat,” Omar complained. “I can’t swallow it, nor can I get it out!”
Afghanistan may have begun as a “war of necessity,” as Obama once put it—a forceful and targeted response to the attacks of September 11. But today, after 15 years, it’s a catastrophe from which we cannot seem to free ourselves. Osama bin Laden has been dead for five years. But Afghanistan remains the bone stuck in America’s throat.

Pakistan - Hazara massacres: evasiveness or reluctance to act?

By Lal Khan

There have been increased and numerous sporadic attacks on people belonging to the Shia Hazara community particularly over the last two decades, resulting in spilling the blood of this unfortunate and targeted community.

Another atrocity committed against the Hazaras by the so-called non-state actors and the state’s another usual evasion. This time five innocent women belonging to the Shia Hazara community were returning home when their bus was stopped on Quetta’s Kirani Road by armed men, and one of them barged inside and started shooting indiscriminately. The murderous action was barely noticed during a media circus that is preoccupied with phony war hysteria.
Such is the condition of state security for ordinary people that this atrocious terror struck even when the authorities had claimed tighter security measures for Muharram in Quetta. As after every such murderous act under every regime of the last decade, federal and provincial rulers “strongly condemned the tragic incident and directed law enforcement agencies to ensure the arrest of perpetrators of the assault.” The top state official had their usual regrets conveyed to media through their spokespersons. Once again the Hazaras were the victims of this sectarian monstrosity with the regime, and the state having failed them yet again.
There have been increased and numerous sporadic attacks on people belonging to the Shia Hazara community particularly over the last two decades, resulting in spilling the blood of this unfortunate and targeted community. On Feb 16, 2013, a bomb blast at a market in Hazara Town left 89 people dead. In January 2013, 81 people were killed and 121 injured in suicide and car bomb blasts in the Alamdar Road area. Terrorists gunned down 26 people belonging to the community when, on Sept 20, 2011, they were travelling in a bus near Quetta. In September 2010, a suicide bombing during a Shia rally in Quetta killed around 50 people and injured many others. In March 2004, an Ashura procession was attacked in the city, which left 42 people dead and many injured. Most of the victims were Hazaras.
The earlier attacks were often claimed by the so-called Sunni subsect, calling itself Lakshar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a Pakistani-Taliban-affiliated organisation that considers Shias as heretics and their killing as a pious religious act. After the last attack this summer, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan responded by banning Shia pilgrims from traveling by road between Quetta and the Iranian border, saying it was impossible to “fully secure” the route. Now will he ban the Hazaras from even travelling less than five kilometres to the Quetta city for their groceries? This lays bare the mind-set of our ruling elite in power.
There has been widespread sectarian violence between Pakistan’s different Sunni sects and Shia groups for long. But in the past five years groups including Jaish-ul-Islam and the LeJ have launched and executed sectarian terrorist acts in an increasingly brutal campaign. Balochistan has become one of the epicentres of this slaughter. However, historically, there was very little sectarian violence in Balochistan. Sectarian violence has only recently raised its ugly head, and this has been deliberately nurtured by sections of the bureaucratic elite to crush and demoralise the movement against class and nation oppression. Over half-million Hazaras were forced out of Afghanistan during the 1980s due to the ‘dollar jihad’. After the US aggression and occupation of Afghanistan in 2001, this community has been bled and maimed by sectarian butchery.
After these acts of sectarian killings of Shias in Balochistan during the last few years, the state launched rigorous military operations against ‘terrorists’. But it is an open secret that these military operations were mainly conducted against ‘other targets’. No efficacious operation has ever been executed against these sectarian outfits.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report paints a grim picture of the authorities. It states: “The Pakistani government’s response to this violence suggests incompetence, indifference, or possible complicity by security forces and other state personnel with the extremists. Authorities have failed to apprehend or prosecute members of militant groups, including the LeJ, that have claimed responsibility for such attacks. While Pakistan and Balochistan authorities claim to have arrested dozens of suspects linked to attacks against Shia since 2008, only a handful have been actually charged with any crimes.”
The barbarous acts of non-state actors and the total indifference of the Pakistani state to the plight of the ones being slaughtered have multiplied insecurities leading to severe psychological and social traumas on the Hazara community. A malaise, a painful irrelevance has set in the community’s prevalent psyche that is practically ghettoised. Since 2012, Quetta’s Hazaras have been forced to restrict their lives and activities to the neighbourhoods of Marriabad and Hazara Town along with economic hardships and limited freedom of movement and safe access to education. It is not an accident that the Hazaras, mainly the youth, are trying to get out from this suffocating isolation and social and cultural privation, escaping Pakistan to seek refuge in countries as far away as Australia.
However, continuous targeting is posing serious questions of an existential threat to the Hazara community. Narendra Modi’s cynical rhetoric on Balochistan was more damaging for its inhabitants than to anyone else. But pointing fingers at proxy wars being the only cause of this murderous campaign is insufficient. There has been a history of alienation, oppression and isolation of the region. Pakistan was created on August 14, 1947, but until March 29, 1949, the Khanate of Kalat was a separate princely state that was annexed under duress. Ever since the region has been in turmoil and bloody conflict. With the discovery of huge reserves of minerals, imperialist vultures have swarmed onto the region for naked plunder. The alienation and sentiments of national and socioeconomic deprivation, exploitation, state and non-state brutalities have aggravated people’s revulsion against the system. The disparity of socioeconomic development and relatively less terrorist violence and state repression in Punjab and some other regions is increasing alienation and a seething discontent in Balochistan. The fight against religious sectarian bestiality, and struggle for national and socioeconomic liberation has to be united in a collective struggle on class basis. Only through the victory of this class struggle can this sectarian savagery — the distilled essence of the rotten capitalism — be obliterated, once and forever.

Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba suffered maximum damage in surgical strikes, 20 militants killed: Reports

Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashker-e-Taiba(LeT) suffered the maximum damage in the cross-LoC surgical strikes on terror launch pads+carried out by Indian army with assessment reports of radio intercepts indicating that around 20 of its militants were killed.

The assessment reports available from Indian army field units which included radio conversations between various Pakistani formations showed maximum damage was inflicted on LeT, a banned terror group, at Dudniyal launch pad in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, opposite to Kupwara sector of North Kashmir, according to sources in the know of details of the recent surgical strikes.

The sources said on Sunday that five teams culled out from the army division in the area were tasked to destroy launch pads of terror groups located at Kail also known as Kel and Dudniyal.

In a well calibrated operation, which started on the intervening night of September 28 and 29, Indian army moved across the LoC and smashed four launch pads that were under the guard of a Pakistani post located 700 metres from the LoC.

The sources said that the terrorists were not expecting an action by the Indian army and therefore were taken by surprise+ .

The terrorists, mainly belonging to the LeT, were seen running towards the Pakistani post when they were killed by the Indian troops, according to the assessment reports.

After the successful strike inside the PoK, an effective radio monitoring and strict vigil was maintained, the sources said, adding the wireless messages from radio intercepts of Pakistani army indicated that at least 10 LeT terrorists had been been killed during the multiple and near synchronised surgical strikes on four launch pads.

There was heavy movement of Pakistani army vehicles till the break of dawn and all the bodies were cleared off and taken away, the sources said, adding as per the radio intercepts there was a mass burial in the Neelum valley.

Similar blow was dealt to the terrorist launch pads located at Balnoi area opposite of Poonch in which nine people belonging to LeT were killed as per the radio intercepts of Pakistani army, the sources said.

Two Pakistani soldiers belonging to 8 Northern Light Infantry were also killed in the strike in this sector, they said.

However, the sources said that post 8.30 AM of September 28, radio and wireless intercepts between various formations of Pakistan have fallen silent.

Indian films banned, Pakistani actors ejected – how the Kashmir crisis is hitting Bollywood

Michael Safi

Adark cloud has hung over Delhi these past few weeks, and it isn’t just the pollution. Ever since a September attack by militants in Kashmir killed 19 Indian soldiers, war has been in the air. And, as with the pollution, no part of life here is unaffected. A 65-year-old water-sharing pact between India and Pakistan is apparently being reconsidered. The famous Wagah checkpoint – where audiences watch Indian and Pakistani border guards trade high kicks and handshakes – was briefly shut to the public, reportedly after Pakistani revellers pelted the Indian side with stones.
And last week, after India announced its troops had launched “surgical strikes” in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association said it, too, was on a war footing. The legion of Pakistani actors and technicians in Bollywood, and other Indian cinema hubs, would be banned from working “until normalcy returns”, it said. The organisation’s president, TP Aggarwal, went even further, saying Pakistanis would be banned from the industry “for ever”, and asking the Indian government to boot them from the country.
Fawad Khan, a meticulously bearded leading man from Lahore, is the ban’s most famous victim. Khan planned to return to India later this month to promote his Diwali holiday blockbuster, the romantic drama Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Instead he will stay put in Pakistan, while plans for the film’s debut languish after threats by ultra-nationalist MNS party in Mumbai to disrupt screenings and promotional events.Two Pakistani singers have also cancelled their Indian concerts after the same far-right party ordered Pakistani artists to leave the country within two days – or face being “pushed out”.Even Indians have been caught in the crossfire. On Friday, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui dropped out of a Hindu theatre festival, forgoing a role that had been his “childhood dream”, after objections by another nationalist party, the Shiv Sena. Party member Mukesh Sharma told the Times of India: “In the 50- to 60-year history of the Budhana Ramlila, no Muslim artist has set foot on the stage. We couldn’t allow that now. It’s about tradition.”The line between art and politics in India is already blurry. Actors regularly swan into parliamentary seats and lend their colossal fame to one candidate or another. Inevitably, politics intrudes the other way. But the cold shoulder shown to Khan and other Pakistanis has kicked off a spirited debate in the Indian media and among Bollywood’s brightest stars.Karan Johar, the director of Fawad Khan’s upcoming release, said his “heart bleeds for the lost lives” among India’s soldiers, but insisted a ban “is not a solution”. Indian Salman Khan, one of world’s highest-paid actors, said his Pakistani colleagues had all been cleared for entry by the Indian government, and in any case, were “artistes not terrorists”. Others have walked a finer line. Veteran actor Anupam Kher said Pakistani artists needed to publicly denounce the attacks on Indian soldiers – as some, but not Khan, have done.
The irascible Nana Patekar thinks Bollywood ought to simply shut up about the matter: “Artistes are small insects in front of the nation, we are nothing compared to the country. I don’t want to know what Bollywood says,” he said.
This treatment of Indian Muslim and Pakistani actors takes place against the backdrop of increasing threats to free speech in the world’s largest democracy, according to human rights groups.
Divya Spandana (also known as Ramya), another Indian actor turned politician, was threatened with a civil sedition charge after visiting Pakistan in August. Her crime? Saying India’s rival was “a good country, not hell”. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s cinema lobby has called the restriction on its nationals “deeply regrettable”, and announced its own embargo, pulling all Indian films from Pakistani screens. Indian cinema was already banned in Pakistan for 43 years, after the second Kashmir war between the countries, and only permitted again in 1998. On Thursday, Indian sitcoms and soap operas – already restricted on Pakistani television to 86 minutes a day – were also completely banned by the country’s media regulator.
It is a predictable response, but presents a conundrum for the Pakistani cinemas. “The lifespan of any film is one week; a blockbuster, two weeks. There were a total of 15 Pakistani films released last year,” Khorem Gultasab, the general manager of cinema chain SuperCinema, told the Dawn newspaper.
“Even if you double the amount of each film’s run time, with the few films released, you’re still left with 40-42 weeks of empty screens. What will cinemas do for those weeks?”

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Pakistan - The elephant in the room

By Afrasiab Khattak
Amidst the persistent military tension on the Line of Control between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, the first week of October saw a deepening civil-military schism in Pakistan’s power structure surfacing to the public and getting reported in national and international press.
Massive protests in the streets of Indian controlled Kashmir for the last almost three months have thoroughly embarrassed India and even the brutal measures in large numbers of its security forces have failed to quell the popular agitation. But when it comes to the international response to the situation in Kashmir, Pakistani diplomacy has a disadvantage on two counts. One, there have been terrorist attacks in Indian controlled Kashmir in recent years some of which were traced to Pakistan-based proscribed organizations such as Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) and Jaish e Muhammad (JeM). To the utter dismay of not only India, but also of other important members of international community, the government of Pakistan failed to take any action against these proscribed organisations, some think because of their alleged closeness to the country’s intelligence agencies.
Two, the current uprising was triggered by the death of a young commander Burhan Wani. There is almost negligible international criticism of Indian repression in Kashmir. It was in this context that in high level meetings in Pakistan on security and foreign policy the civilian leadership pointed an accusing finger at the security establishment’s patronage of proscribed militant outfits accused of terrorism. It is also pertinent to mention that the aforementioned high level meetings were held in the aftermath of cancellation of the Islamabad SAARC summit when seven out of total eight members (including India) pulled out of it. Most of them referred to the “problem of terrorism” as the main reason for their refusal to attend the SAARC summit in Islamabad. It is undoubtedly a foreign policy fiasco and a testimony to Pakistan’s total isolation in South Asia. It goes without saying that a continuous Pakistani support to Taliban’s all out war on Afghan state and society is an important factor in shaping her image as country that supports anti-state wars in the neighboring countries. The civilian part of the Pakistani state system is conscious of the fact the total monopoly of the country’s security establishment over Afghan policy led to the rupture of rapprochement with Afghanistan that had begun with President Ashraf Ghani’s historic Pakistan visit in 2014. So in the aforementioned high-level meetings Pakistan’s civilian leadership has spotted the elephant in the room but what can it do about it is the real question.
However, to be more accurate the civil military divide in Pakistan did not start with the recent military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It was there all along after the general elections of 2008 when democratically elected civilian government started to assert its authority. The PPP-led coalition government was able to introduce important constitutional reforms and to an extent could enhance the role of parliament in shaping the state policies. But President Asif Ali Zardari had to face blunt and naked coercion of the country’s security establishment to curtail civilian control over state policies. It was in the shape of the so-called memo commission, the background music of the notorious minus-one formula and the aggressive CJ of the Apex Court. However, civil-military tussle entered a new stage when Nawaz Sharif led PML-N won a clear majority in the 2013 general elections. This particular political party has its political base in the province of Punjab which is not only population-wise a bigger province than all the others put together but it also enjoys heavy domination in both civil and military bureaucracies and business elites of the country. As the authentic leader of Punjabi bourgeoisie and head of Muslim League, a political party that was once headed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, Mian Nawaz Sharif is better able than any other political leader to stand up to the security establishment for asserting civilian authority. As a third time Prime Minister of the country he has a far greater experience in facing the overbearing security establishment that breathes heavily on the neck of civil governments. He is the only Prime Minister who has so far appointed three army chiefs and is shortly about to appoint the fourth one. That in itself is a record of sorts in a country where the military has either ruled the country directly or has resorted to back seat driving when it was not in a position to take over.
But this time round the situation is trickier than ever. PM Nawaz Sharif has won elections on a clear mandate focusing on the economic development of the country that necessitates normalisation of relations with the neighboring countries. Interestingly his election plate from in 2013 not only promised to forge normal relations with India but it also included starting economic cooperation with the eastern neighbor. Nawaz Sharif has been quite serious and consistent in this policy and has not hesitated from taking bold steps in this direction. Now this is a red rag to the country’s powerful security establishment that thrives on tension with neighboring countries. But to be fair the BJP government in India also failed to understand political dynamics in Pakistan and did not reciprocate Nawaz Sharif’s bold gestures. Its insistence on a military solution to the situation in Kashmir has definitely strengthened the hands of hawks in Pakistani ruling circles.
The first sit in by Imran Khan and Tahir Ul Qadri for overthrowing the government in 2014 is part of history. Now comes season two of the get-the-government campaign. Under the cover of demand for investigating the scandal of offshore companies revealed by the so-called Panama Papers there is move for a “regime change”. Ironically those who do not get tired of talking about the moral authority of PM Nawaz Sharif don’t say a word about the escape of General Pervez Musharraf from the country while facing charges of high treason for abrogating the Constitution. Be that as it may, timing and modus operandi of the current script being implemented by Imran Khan seems to be following the recent Egyptian model. But let us remember that the federation of Pakistan is a totally different country and unlike Egypt the loss of a federal parliamentary constitution can be fatal for her.